SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond recently announced that applications are available for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO), both federally funded, state-administered programs that serve free meals to children eighteen and younger when school is out of session.
“Food insecurity is a daily struggle for some of our students and their families and that struggle can become even more critical during the summer months,” said Thurmond. “Summer Meal Programs provide children in poverty with the nutritious meals necessary to help them strive physically and mentally. A child who is not distracted by hunger is a child ready to learn.”
According to the California Association of Food Banks, 85 percent of children who benefit from the federally funded free or reduced-price lunches during the school year miss similar lunch programs available during the summer. Every summer, 17 of 20 low-income students fall into the summer nutrition gap. In 2019, the Summer Meals Programs served over 14 million meals at close to five thousand sites throughout the state.
“This type of effort could not exist if it weren’t for the sponsors.” said Thurmond. “Last year, close to 600 agencies participated. The ability to feed kids throughout the state, in multiple locations, and in some of the most economically challenged communities would not be possible if organizations did not apply. The more agencies we have, the more kids we can serve.”
Summer meal sites are located in communities where at least 50 percent of the children quality for free or reduced-price school meals. Programs delivered through K–12 schools such as school nutrition are not subject to the public charge rule. SFSP and SSO are not considered public benefits that could impact an individual’s immigration status. All meals meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition requirements, and no paperwork or personal information is required for children to participate.
Organizations eligible to participate in Summer Meal Programs include schools, camps, nonprofits, tribal governments, and government agencies. Applications are due by May 15, 2020.
For more information about Summer Meal Programs, visit the California Department of Education Summer Meal Programs web page. If your agency is interested in becoming a sponsor or hosting a meal site, contact the Summer Meals Unit at 1-800-952-5609 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If your organization is not able to provide meal services, please consider promoting Summer Meal Sites in your community. You can locate meal sites on the Summer Meal Service Site web page.
The California Department of Education is a state agency led by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. For more information, please visit the California Department of Education’s website.